‘Give us 4 weeks to appear’: 13 rebel MLAs write to speaker on disqualification plea
Karnataka political crisis: The fate of Karnataka’s beleaguered coalition government hung in the balance on Monday night as the debate on a trust vote in the assembly entered its third working day and the speaker summoned rebel lawmakers.
Thirteen rebel legislators in Karnataka, whose resignations have pushed the Congress-JD(S) government in the state to the brink of collapse, have written to assembly speaker KR Ramesh Kumar asking him four weeks’ time to respond to his summons on the disqualification petition moved against them by Congress leader Siddaramaiah.
The fate of Karnataka’s beleaguered coalition government hung in the balance on Monday night as the debate on a trust vote in the assembly entered its third working day and the speaker summoned rebel lawmakers on Tuesday at 11am.
Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumathahalli, BA Basavaraj, BC Patil, Pratapgouda Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, ST Somashekhar, MTB Nagaraj, and Munirathna of the Congress and K Gopalaiah, AH Vishwanath and Narayana Gowda of the JD(S) have written to the Speaker. The lone MLA of the KPJP, R Shankar, who had sent a letter to the Speaker asking for his party to be merged with the Congress, has also sent his application.
The letters were similar in content, telling the speaker that they have not received the copy of the petition and other documents seeking their disqualification.
“You are aware that Disqualification Rules, 1986, require a minimum of 7 days period. In spite of the same, the proceedings are being hurried up. I am not in station now and I requite to consult my lawyer after receiving the papers. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Balachandra R Jarkiholi vs BS Yeddyurappa reported in (2011) 7 SCC 1 has held that 7 days notice period is mandatory. In these circumstances, I request you to grant four weeks time to appear,” they said in the letter.
The cases of three MLAs though is different from the other 10. For instance, the disqualification petition against Jarkiholi and Kumathahalli dates back to February and the Speaker had told HT earlier this month that they had skipped three hearings in the case already.
In the case of Shankar, senior Congress leaders believe his disqualification will be automatic because he submitted a letter to the Governor on July 8, when he resigned as a cabinet minister, stating that he was willing to support the BJP.
However, the secretariat refused to clarify his merger petition. Hence, it is unclear if the merger has indeed happened and he can be considered a Congress MLA now.
The government slipped into a crisis two weeks ago after 16 lawmakers — 13 from the Congress and three from the JD(S) — resigned. Since then, one Congress MLA has signalled he would return to the party fold and two independent legislators have withdrawn support to the coalition. Ramesh Kumar is yet to take a final call on accepting the resignation letters.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 105 members, the Congress-JD(S) coalition has the support of 100 MLAs, excluding Kumar, in the 225-member assembly. There are 15 rebel MLAs, two Independents and one MLA from the BSP, while another is a nominated member. If the resignation letters of the rebel MLAs are accepted by the speaker, the government would be in a minority.
The debate on the trust vote dragged on in the assembly well into Monday night with impatient BJP members pressing for an end to the discussion, which began last Thursday.
Despite assurances by Ramesh Kumar on Monday morning that the vote would be held during the day, the House was adjourned around 11.40pm without the floor test being conducted. Kumar promised that the trust vote will be held by 6pm on Tuesday.
Two previous deadlines set by governor Vajubhai Vala for the vote were already breached last Friday. By Monday night, only five of the 26 MLAs scheduled to speak on the motion have finished their speeches.